Community groups have until April 26 to bid to buy the building
Work is well underway on the controversial redevelopment of Merton Hall in South Wimbledon to enable the Elim Church to move in.
The building they will free up in High Path with their eventual move to Merton Hall will enable a new Harris Academy free school to be built on their current home.
The plans, agreed by Merton Council, have angered some sections of the local community.
Campaign group, 'The Friends of Merton Hall' has successfully applied for the building to be made an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
But conversion work has started on the hall although community interest groups now have until April 26 to make a bid to buy the building under ACV regulations.
Merton Council said last week that work would be starting on the building despite the ACV application.
But Merton Conservatives today (March 19) asked for work to be halted until after the May 3 borough council election.
In a letter to Paul Evans, council Monitoring Officer, Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon and Oonagh Moulton, leader of Merton Conservative Group, stated: "As you are aware, Tuesday 20 March is the start of the official pre-election purdah period and the proposals around Merton Hall have become a topic of significant interest in the campaign.
"Whilst the current administration pursues a policy of demolition and handover of the land to Elim Pentecostal Church, the Merton Conservative Group has adopted a policy which is opposed to any demolition or handover.
"To persist with the works at Merton Hall would be to pre-empt the election result and would contravene the restrictions on local authorities during the immediate run-up to an election by effectively implementing a highly contentious policy during the purdah period.
"If you feel that works should persist during purdah, we shall not hesitate to engage the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government."
Mr Hammond said last week: "Disappointing to see work beginning at Merton Hall, and I continue to work closely with @SaveMertonHall to fight the Labour council's plans, and I recently met and spoke to Sajid David about this.
"Work should be halted to allow time for Asset of Community Value bids".
Former Merton Councillor and UKIP spokeswoman Suzanne Evans said: “Not only is Merton Council destroying a beautiful old & locally listed building, they're doing it to build a new hall for a religious organisation with seriously worrying views.”
Resident Elaine Chambers (@Therapyangel1 on Twitter) said: “Contractors arrived to erect fencing around Merton Hall! When the deputy charge hand arrived he was baffled why Merton are demolishing 'such a beautiful 122-yr-old building when his company spend most of their time refurbishing such buildings'".
Meanwhile, a "public consultation event" is being held over proposed designs for the new free school (below), which will cater for 1,150 pupils, on the High Path estate.
The consultation event takes place today (March 19), from 4pm-8pm, in the High Path Community Resource Centre at 63 High Path. The centre itself is also on the site of the proposed academy.
In a statement Merton Council has said: "Harris Wimbledon will open at the former Merton Adult Education Centre on Whatley Avenue taking in 120 pupils in September 2018 and a further 180 the following academic year before moving to its permanent, purpose built site on High Path in 2020.
"The site of the new school is currently occupied by High Path Resource Centre, a former officer building as well as Elim Church, the last piece in the jigsaw to secure the land at High Path. Elim church has now signed a contract to swap their land on High Path for Merton Hall on Kingston Road, owned by the council."
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March 19, 2018